CRA BASICS, TIPS AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR ENTRY LEVEL CLINICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATES OR THOSE INTERESTED IN BECOMING CLINICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATES
1. You will not always be there for your family Face it this is the most important one. You will not always be there for birthdays, first milestones or every dinner. If you are single this may not be a problem but if you have kids especially very small ones this might be the hardest pill to swallow. Sure you can schedule some of your visits around these events like birthdays but what about unplanned events like first words, steps ect. That is a huge sacrifice you will have to be ready to make. 2. You will not always be working in the best facilities You will not always be working in a glamorous medical practice. You will at times be in a small cramped room within a physician’s office with very little space to do your work. I once worked in an office where the air conditioning was kept so high (in the winter) I had to go out to buy a second jacket. There have been other times where I was in a dark basement where I had to request extra light to review CRF. 3. You are responsible for your work 24/7 This is not a 9 to 5 job. Sites will be calling you on your company cell phone all the time with questions about the study and other random request that you need to be ready to help them with! 4. The pay may not be worth it Although you are compensated well, depending on the month or even year it may not be worth it. Let’s say you are putting in 80 hours per week including travel and time on calls with sites during off hours. If you are a salaried employee you are not going to be compensated for that additional time. 60 hours should be expected but more than 60 is more common. Be prepared to find that you are being underpaid. At my company I am given comp time (additional vacation days) only when I am traveling on the weekend. 5. You may not work well independently This is a solo job. Of course you have the rest of your peers and manager to assist you with questions, but for the most part you are on your own. If you cannot solve problems and think critically this is not the job for you. 6. Downsizing may be an issue Due to the high cost of running a clinical trial. The trend has been for pharmaceutical companies to hire Clinical Research Organizations/ Contract Research Organizations (CROs) and freelance contract CRAs for their trials on an as needed basis. This means that if you are a CRA at a big pharmaceutical company your job is not as secure as if you were a CRA at a CRO. 7. The places you travel to do get boring You may have loooved LA the first time you went but then you went to LA every 6 weeks by the 3rd time it got old. That’s how it always is. You will be going to these places all the time. My tip to you is don’t rush and do everything on the first visit. Take your time and explore slowly each time you go to each place. You may also be going to places in the outskirts of major cities. These place seem to have little to offer at first but dig deeper and you may find really interesting people and entertainment you might not have known existed. 8. You may not have time to experience the places you go! Sure you went to LA. But the by the time you were finished at the site you had a huge monitoring report to complete because the site was a nightmare. You also had several emails to respond to and voice-mails to return. You don’t have any time to explore LA because your flight is at 6:00AM the next morning and you need to be back at the office for a meeting in the afternoon. This is all too real reality. Going to new places is not the same as experiencing new places! 9. New study’s and policies high turnover and revised SOPs make “getting the hang of things” almost impossible You will almost always be in transition. If you are a person that likes to learn the job, do it, and then go home, this is not the job for you. Be ready because there are always new protocols to learn, new SOPS being written, new personnel to meet and new training to be finished. It’s an ever-changing industry which for me is great but that may not be the case for you. 10. This is the corporate world so you will have to deal with some level of bureaucracy Politics, Politics, Politics. This is my least favorite thing about this job. There is really no way around it. You just have to learn how to maneuver while keeping your own integrity. That goes for every profession not just as a CRA.
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